Universal Music Group says it is suspending operations in Russia

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Universal Music Group is seen in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Universal Music Group (UMG) is seen at a building in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

March 9, 2022

(Reuters) -Universal Music Group said Tuesday it was suspending all operations in Russia and closing its offices, as it joins a growing number of companies protesting the violence in Ukraine.

The world’s largest music company’s decision followed the announcement last week by Spotify that it would close its offices in Russia in response to what it described as Moscow’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

“We urge an end to the violence in Ukraine as soon as possible,” Universal Music said in a statement. “We are adhering to international sanctions and, along with our employees and artists, have been working with groups from a range of countries (including the U.S., U.K., Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Czech Republic and Hungary) to support humanitarian relief efforts to bring urgent aid to refugees in the region.”

The music industry once considered Russia a promising emerging market, with streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify attracting millions of subscribers in a place once dominated by piracy. Russia ranked among the top 20 global markets, with recorded music sales reaching $199 million in 2020, with a growth rate of 30%, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio)